G14 Oilers at Canadiens

These are the final standings, spring 1970. All kinds of things here: Oakland Seals made the playoffs, their second and final time. They were tied with the Flyers, but won via a tie breaker. Speaking of tie-breakers, you would not believe the fuss surrounding New York’s Rangers finishing ahead of Montreal for the final playoff spot.

An account of the story behind those standings is available here, but it would take forever to explain it completely. Montreal would turn things around the following season and win the Stanley in 1971, due to Boston’s overconfidence and a big man named Dryden.
I was never a Habs fan, but always liked their blueline as a kid. Serge Savard had lost his speed and played safety net for Larry Robinson, and Guy Lapointe arrived complete. Jacques Laperriere used to skate like he was slipping on a banana peel but it worked, and JC Tremblay was supremely skilled. I can’t ever remember them fondly, because Orr was my hero.
But the Habs blue from 1971 spring through the end of the decade was insane. INSANE.
Based on latest reports, Barker is in (Teubert likely drawing out) and Hemsky could play. If 83 draws in, one of the forwards mentioned as a possible HS is Paajarvi. Talk of a “sophomore slump” showed up in a Joanne Ireland column in the last news cycle but I really don’t think it should be a huge worry. Sure, Paajarvi is not posting huge numbers but then again no one in the bottom six is killing it yet. Leave MP with Gagner for a few games and good things will happen. Here is the 5×5/60 offense Magnum PS this and last year:
  • 10-11:  1.36 in 13.25 a night (Desjardins)
  • 11-12: .42 in 11.08 a night (Desjardins)
So, he’s two EV points off the pace. I’m no math God, but it seems to me that luck is at least somewhat in play here and things will even out. Paajarvi has used his speed in driving to the net and at least one defenseman took a penalty on one of his sorties. If they HS him it won’t be the end of the world, but I don’t think he’s close to being the right guy to sit (see Eager, Ben). 
I don’t think the Oilers have a snowball’s chance in a hot place of winning tonight. Jacques Martin’s 109th life kicked in awhile back and things seem to be on track despite a defense thrown together with binder twine and Elmer’s glue. The Oilers aren’t as good as their record, and the market correction should be provided on this road trip.
Things we can look for are the outstanding play of Ryan Smyth and Tom Gilbert. Nikolai Khabibulin’s SP and GAA are extremely unlikely to have sustain and the Kid Line are a different animal on the road. 
It’s a journey.  

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